OKAHANDJA mayor Johannes Hindjou yesterday denied claims that the municipality was giving preferential treatment to a foreign institution which wants to lease a property in that town.
Some community members criticised the town council after it had placed adverts in the local media, calling for objections regarding the leasing of a building on land measuring about 13 100 square metres in the Nau Aib location.
The building, which previously belonged to Meatco, would be leased to a foreign organisation called Limkokwing University for N$30 000 per month. Activist Kathleen Urikhos, who claimed to be the chairperson of the "concerned" Okahandja community committee, said they were against the leasing of the building because "it was community property".
Urikhos stated that the town council was in the wrong because it did not consult "the community and people who have been conducting business from there" before advertising the property.
"Meatco handed over the building to the municipality when they left, but it is now community property. It is not the mayor's property, or the town council's. Now, they want to lease the building to a foreigner, while we still have people who are already suffering from a lack of accommodation," Urikhos said.
"Some people are already conducting small-scale businesses in that building, and if they give it to foreigners, our people would be left with no place to trade their products, and they will not have anything to put on the table for their children," she added.
Hindjou, however, yesterday said the town council was not giving preferential treatment to the foreign organisation, and labelled those objecting to the lease as "people who want to sabotage a Swapo-led municipality".
He also denied claims that Meatco was paying N$100 000 per month for the same building that would now be leased out for N$30 000 per month. "People must bring proof of their claims. They must stop spreading lies. There is no way that an institution would pay N$100 000 here in Okahandja because our prices are not even high. We even advertised the leasing of the property in the newspaper for objections. There is nothing sinister here," he stated.
Hindjou added that even people who are currently renting at the building are just paying N$500 per month, and that those who qualify to be accommodated at the building would still be allowed to stay.
"If they have an issue with the leasing of the property, they must object. The must stop complaining to the newspapers," the mayor said, adding that they were leasing out the property to bring development to the town.
"The proposed university would accommodate about 1 000 students," he explained.
After Meatco left two years ago, the building has been idle, and was even vandalised, he said.
"We are not bringing a shebeen to the place, but a university which will benefit the community.
We are bringing education to the people of Okahandja. People must be happy and accept development because something is coming to their community.
"At the end of the day, as a council, we are not here to make money. We are here to bring services closer to the people. This project will benefit the larger section of the Okahandja community," he stressed.